Year Started At POGO: 2011
We are pleased to launch the new mobile site for the Project On Government Oversight with easy ways to stay updated on our investigations and write your Members of Congress while on the go. See for yourself by pointing your phone to http://www.pogo.org
POGO's Ben Freeman just released his book The Foreign Policy Auction, so we sat down with him to find out who is paying to change U.S. foreign policy and how.
How many secrets does the government have, and where are they keeping them? POGO's Joe Newman and Suzie Dershowitz sit down with Amy Bennett from OpenTheGovernment.org, which just released its annual Secrecy Report, to discuss how secret the federal government was last year.
On August 6, President Obama signed into law a bill that would provide health care to the nearly 1 million victims of the 30-year water poisoning at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The tireless work of documentary filmmakers, Ret. MSgt. Jerry Ensminger, the Environmental Working Group and POGO helped get this bill passed.
There is a dangerous shark roaming the waters in and around Washington. Help protect Washington against this shark by donating to the Project On Government Oversight today. http://getinvolved.pogo.org/site/Donation2?df_id=2080&2080.donation=form1
Inspectors General are the watchdogs of government, but right now some agencies have been without an IG for over a thousand days. What government waste are we missing with so many empty IG positions? Find out more at http://www.pogo.org/resources/good-government/go-igi-20120208-where-are-all-the-watchdogs-inspector-general-vacancies1.html
Several POGO staffers recently sat down with longtime defense analyst Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project and latest addition to Team POGO, to discuss a range of defense issues—everything from the jet that ate the Pentagon to Congress's addiction to national security spending.
Former Project On Government Oversight investigator Jake Wiens testified before the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee about the worrying number of federal Inspector General (IG) positions that do not have permanent leadership. Without a strong set of IGs, the waste, fraud and abuse of government funds can easily go unchecked.
Since finding out that the water at Camp Lejenue may have been connected with his daughter's death, Jerry Ensminger has been on a quest to learn the truth about Camp Lejeune and to get justice for the contamination victims--as many as one million Marines and their family members, according to some estimates.
You deserve to know how the government spends $662 billion of your money. That is why you should join POGO and a long list of other organizations in asking the Senate to open up its drafting of the National Defense Authorization Act. Help shine a light on the defense budget by going to http://www.openndaa.org.
Government spending on contractors has grown out of control, but it is rarely mentioned in Washington. At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Claire McCaskill questioned Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about how the "monster" of government contracting got out of control. McCaskill cited POGO's Bad Business report that showed that federal contractors cost 1.8 times more than federal employeess to perform the same job.
POGO works with a growing community of people who are concerned with Transparency, Accountability and Oversight in the federal government. Will you consider making a difference alongside them by providing an investment to support POGO's work. Consider Donating Today - http://www.pogo.org/donate
POGO staffers recently sat down to dissect the President's fiscal year 2013 budget request. Did the executive branch ask Congress to keep funding the Energy Department's billion-dollar boondoggles? Did costly weapons systems get curtailed? Will U.S. troops continue to keep a watchful eye on Italian beaches?
The State Department has a poor record of overseeing private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and now as U.S. troops leave Iraq, the number of security contractors is going double. This presents an opportunity for all kinds of oversight
National security whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Thomas Tamm spoke about the importance of the 4th amendment and whistleblower protections after a screening of All The President's Men as a part of POGO's Whistleblower Film Series.
2011 has been an excellent year for us at the Project On Government Oversight, and we wanted to share some of our successes and our gratitude with all of our supporters who have read our reports, shared our stories, tweeted at us, answered an action alert or made a donation. Thank you for your amazing support. It's what keeps us going, and it is why we do what we do. With your support, we can make 2012 the biggest year yet for POGO and our supporters
US taxpayers are paying contractors who participate in human trafficking on US military bases around the world. Thousands of poor, rural men are being held in warehouses for months without pay after promises of high salaries. These men are used to build and maintain US military bases in combat zones, and they are being routinely exploited by a subcontractor system with little oversight. Sindhu P. Kavinamannil and Sam W. McCahon are making a documentary about human labor trafficking, and they came to sit down at POGO and record a podcast about their findings. Watch a short teaser for the podcast here. Stay tuned for the full podcast.
We went out on the National Mall to talk to some people about how the government is paying a premium to hire contractors to do jobs that federal employees could do for less money. It's a complicated issue, but when presented with the facts it is easy to see that the government needs to take another look at how it does contracting. Tell Your Member of Congress We Can't Afford Overpriced Service Contractors By Clicking Here - https://secure3.convio.net/pogo/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=197&3
As the government increased spending on federal contractors from $200 billion to $500 billion a year, the Project On Government Oversight began looking at how that money was spent. Recently we release our Bad Business report that debunks the myth that contractors are cheaper than federal employees. In this video, POGO's Scott Amey gives some background on the rise of federal contractors and how POGO came to do the Bad Business report. Read the report here http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/reports/contract-oversight/bad-business/co-gp-20110913.html
The topic was the recently released Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors report. The report studied 35 occupational classifications to see if outsourcing federal government jobs to contractors was cost effective. To find out the results, and hear some analysis and special commentary.
The government is wasting billions of dollars a year by hiring more expensive government contractors, according to a new report by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). POGO General Counsel Scott Amey and POGO Investigator Paul Chassy talk about the report. The government is looking for any way to reduce the deficit, and this report shows that one of the first places they should look is the wasteful federal contracting system. http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/reports/contract-oversight/bad-business/co-gp-20110913.html
We went out on the streets of Washington D.C. to ask people what they think about the government paying $327.60 for a part that costs $8.88. They weren't happy. Boeing overcharged the U.S. Army a total of $13 million for helicopter spare parts. But even more outrageous is that the government isn't asking for a refund. Join the people we talked to in asking Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to demand a refund from Boeing by clicking here - http://getinvolved.pogo.org/boeingrefund
On this week's podcast, Adam Miles, from the Office of Special Council, gives an overview of how the OSC works with federal whistleblowers. Miles was a speaker at the July, 2011 meeting of POGO's Congressional Oversight Training Series.
Franz Gayl, a Marine Corps science adviser, exposed the fact that the Marine Corps ignored an urgent request from troops in Iraq for vehicles that are better protected against improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs. But Gayl was stripped of his security clearance, effectively ending his career.
On July 18, The Project On Government Oversight was part of a screening of Harry Shearer's new documentary The Big Uneasy about the flooding of New Orleans. After the screening, Shearer was part of a panel with POGO's Executive Director Danielle Brian and George Sorvalis from the National Wildlife Foundation and the Water Protection Network. Shearer and Brian talked about the changes they think need to be made to the Army Corps of Engineers. Shearer is famous for his role in mockumentaries like Spinal Tap and his voice work on The Simpsons. For more info about the movie go to http://www.thebiguneasy.com
If you've been hearing about medical ghostwriting but aren't sure what it is, POGO investigator Paul Thacker is here to explain what's happening.
Boeing has been ripping off taxpayers by charging outrageous prices for a variety of helicopter spare parts.One part, a straight pin, was marked up by an astonishing 177,000 percent. That's like paying $71.01 for one after-dinner mint.
Bob Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute of Policy Studies, talks with POGO staff about the dangers of how spent nuclear fuel rods are stored in the U.S. To hear more of this great discussion and learn what a solution is for the problem of nuclear fuel rods, go listen to the full podcast.
It might be logical to assume that lawmakers are the ones who make laws, but bank lobbyists are playing a larger role in writing financial regulations, according to an article in The New York Times.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the Pentagon to buy a new healthcare management system to better communicate with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to an article in The Washington Post.
The Justice Department’s seizure of records for 20 phone lines of Associated Press reporters and editors is only the latest in a continued attack on press freedoms, according to POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian.
A former top federal prosecutor leaked an internal memo to retaliate against the lead whistleblower in the Fast and Furious gun-smuggling scandal, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
Nearly 30 years after the end of what is likely the worst water contamination in U.S. history, the cleanup of the site of the contamination is finally nearing an end, according to an article from the Associated Press.
In the wake of the AP phone records scandal, the White House is reviving a bill that would protect journalists from revealing their sources, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
The news that the Justice Department reviewed a broad range of Associated Press phone records in an effort to track down a national security leak is yet another indication of the Obama administration’s overzealous prosecution of leakers and whistleblowers.
Dealings between KBR and the Army have gotten “very nasty” as the two try to close out the largest government services contract in U.S. history, according to an article in Federal Times.
Any laws to expand the powers of the FBI in the wake of the Boston bombings should explicitly include transparency and accountability provisions, according to a new op-ed in The Atlantic by Bruce Schneier.
John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), says the government is trying to interfere with his independent investigations because his reports are embarrassing to the White House and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, according to an article in Politico.
It sounds like the start of an absurd joke, but that’s what happened last summer at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee. Three peace activists broke into one of the most secure nuclear-weapons facilities in the U.S., often called the Fort Knox of Uranium.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been giving the office of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, secret deliveries of cash for more than a decade, according to an article in The New York Times.
Another former Hill staffer with Lockheed Martin on their resume will fill the job of Republican staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to an article in ProPublica.
The federal government will spend at least $890,000 this year on fees for empty bank accounts, according to an article in The Washington Post.
The spotlight of public scrutiny has turned to the staggering backlog of disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but how did the backlog get this big?
In early April, three F-22 jets were forced to make “precautionary landings” at Kadena Air Base in Japan, according to an article in Defense Tech.
The Army has officially accepted seven Apache Guardian helicopters from Boeing despite the helicopters not have transmissions systems installed, according to an article in AOL Defense.
President Obama’s budget request for the Department of Defense ignores the reality of the sequestration cuts and suggests old ideas to save money, according to an analysis by Winslow Wheeler.
The House unanimously passed a bill to bar contractors who are behind on their taxes from receiving federal funds, according to an article in The Washington Post.
The newest littoral combat ship (LCS) caught fire twice during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an article in Defense News.
The 2014 budget request from the Air Force includes funding for 19 additional F-35 fighter jets and cuts active-duty personnel by 1,900 airmen, according to an article in DoD Buzz.
Duplicative programs from catfish inspections to foreign-language support are causing the federal government to waste tens of billions of dollars a year, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Promontory Financial Group, a consulting firm, has become a powerful player in the financial regulatory world partially because nearly two-thirds of the company’s senior executives came from financial regulatory agencies, according to The New York Times.
Tomorrow the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative will meet for the second time and the public is encouraged to call in to listen to the meeting and speak during the public remarks section.
A major safety problem in all 104 nuclear power reactors in the U.S. cannot be fixed and must be replaced with newer technology, according to Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
A new series of blog posts over on Defusing the Nuclear Threat is highlighting how over-classification of documents can not only be wasteful, but dangerous.
The Army bought nearly $900 million worth of spare parts for the Stryker armored fighting vehicle even as the parts became obsolete or unnecessary, according to a report by the Defense Department Office of Inspector General.
Mary Schapiro, the former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is joining Promontory Financial Group LLC, a major private consulting firm stocked with former regulators, according to an article in The Hill.
An increasing amount of stocks are being traded in private dark pools away from public scrutiny and government regulation, according to an article in The New York Times.
On Wednesday’s episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart decried the extremely long wait times veterans are facing for their disability claims and medical appointments despite an increase in funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The head of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) criminal division is returning to the private sector as a vice chairman of a major law firm, according to an article in DealBook.
Army brass and the Senate have said they don’t want Lockheed Martin’s latest missile defense system, but the government is going to pay for it anyway, according to an article in DOD Buzz.
In a welcome move, the Senate Intelligence Committee said they will release information on how individual senators vote on measures and nominations before the committee, according to an article in Roll Call.
After 45,000 malfunctions and 88 recalls since 2005, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking tougher regulations on the heart defibrillator industry, according to an article in The New York Times.
Major corporations are making it financially advantageous for executives to take government jobs, according to a new article by the Project On Government Oversight that reviewed regulatory filings from major Wall Street firms.
As many as hundreds of thousands of veterans could be in the Department of Veteran Affairs backlog waiting for medical appointments, David Hilzenrath, the Project On Government Oversight’s editor-in-chief, said on Public News Service today.
A draft bipartisan bill announced on Tuesday would “mandate a single online portal for all Freedom of Information Act requests across government,” according to an article in NextGov.
Watch the video with POGO's Danielle Brian to get caught up on the big open government victories from last year and some of the challenges ahead.
To kick off Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of all things open government, we’d like to point you to a great story in The Washington Examiner about how transparency advocates can be found across the political spectrum.
A “key contractor” involved in the construction of a nuclear waste processing plant in Hanford, Wash., admitted to criminal time card fraud, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
The leading candidate for the job of chief of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) formerly defended JPMorgan and a chief executive of Bank of America, according to a New York Times article.
Nearly 17,000 recommendations from in-house government watchdogs that could save $67 billion are not being fully implemented, according to a new House report.
The sequestration cuts will be felt in nearly all areas of government, but the Pentgaon says they will protect funds used to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal and to continue the draw down from Afghanistan.
The U.S. Air Force is buying 20 light support planes for the Afghan air force, but because of acquisition mistakes by the U.S. the planes may arrive after U.S. Air Force trainers have left the country.
In a January memo, President Obama asked for new rules for designating federal workers as “national security sensitive,” which would make them easier to fire and could severely hurt whistleblower protections, according to a Bloomberg article.
Lt. General Chris Bogdan talks about how concurrency, where a jet or other weapons are built while still being designed, has led to the F-35 Lightning being vulnerable to lightning strikes.
POGO and several leading advocacy groups from across the political spectrum released a joint letter today telling President Obama and Congress that whether automatic spending cuts take effect this week or not, there is still an urgent need to reduce the Pentagon’s bloated budget.
Major oil companies should stop fighting transparency laws that force extractive industries to disclose payments to governments, said Dominic Eagleton of Global Witness in an op-ed in The Huffington Post.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been making the rounds in Washington to try to avert the cuts from sequestration, but many defense experts think their warnings are overblown and the Pentagon can adapt to a smaller budget.
Brave New Films has released a trailer for their latest movie War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State. T
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is 70 percent over its initial budget and seven years behind schedule, but it’s in no danger of being cut.
On Wednesday, Pentagon officials took to news programs to emphasize the consequences of sequestration. On the same day the Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin an additional $6.9 billion for “F-22 modernization,” according to an article in TIME’s Battleland.
While the President is focusing on countering cyber-attacks and away from large-scale ground invasions, the Pentagon is still buying hundreds of billions of dollars in new weapons for old wars.
Bill Moyers lamented the revolving door between financial regulators and Wall Street while praising the Project On Government Oversight’s recent report on the subject in a new broadcast essay.
Until now, the prosecution model for big banks involved in the financial crisis and subsequent scandals has been to settle for large sums with no admission of guilt, but now that strategy may be changing.
Time magazine has a great, and lengthy, story about the F-35 fighter jet being developed for the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
The Air Force’s investigation into the fatal 2010 crash of an F-22 fighter jet was sloppy and their conclusions were “not supported by the facts,” according to a new report by the Department of Defense Inspector General.
New disclosure rules for doctors on advisory panels for the Food and Drug Administration are meant to increase transparency without discouraging doctors from serving on the panels, according to Ned Feder, POGO's staff scientist.
Effective oversight requires a strong inspector general, and the State Department leads a group of eight agencies that are without a permanent IG.
A POGO study of thousands of government records found that former staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission routinely went to work for major financial firms.
CNBC reported today on our new report detailing the effects of the revolving door on regulation at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Pentagon is planning to increase the pay for members of the uniformed military by 1 percent for 2014, down from the 1.7 percent increase for 2013, according to an article in Government Executive.
A Justice Department lawsuit against a major rating agency does not address the fundamental problems with the industry, according to critics.
President Obama’s “signature governance initiative” is the Open Government Partnership, according to Samantha Powers.
The U.S. Navy has officially decided to reduce its growth plan from 313 major warships to 306, according to a planning document obtained by Defense News.
The federal government announced it would require drug and medical device makers to publicly disclose their payments to doctors and hospitals.
John Brennan, President Obama’s nomination for the head of the CIA, received a large check from his employer, a private intelligence contractor, just before joining the White House as a counterterrorism adviser.
The federal government needs to take concrete steps to be open and transparent by default, said OpenTheGovernment.org executive director Patrice McDermott in an op-ed on The Hill’s Congress Blog.
U.S. officials did not have a way to make sure fuel purchased for security forces in Afghanistan did not come from Iran, which would violate U.S. sanctions, according to a Washington Post story.
Please take action and urge President Obama to nominate a strong and independent permanent State Department Inspector General today.
Most of the largest companies who received billions in federal bailouts have repaid the government, but Ally Financial, a major auto lender, still owes the government $11.4 billion.
Private guards responsible for protecting what may be the most at-risk U.S. diplomatic mission in the world -- the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan -- say security weaknesses have left it dangerously vulnerable to attack.
POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian appeared on MSNBC's Up w/ Chris Hayes to talk about government secrecy and high-profile whistleblower cases.
Help us end U.S.-supported human trafficking so not another cent of your tax dollars go to funding modern-day slavery.
Paula Broadwell, General David Petraeus' mistress, may have used her closeness to Petraeus to promote a new lightweight machine gun for a defense contractor.
The Foreign Policy Auction looks at the countries seeking to influence U.S. foreign policy and the D.C. lobbying firms they hire to do the work for them.
The CEO of Northrop Grumman recently sent an email about affordability and potential job losses from sequestration, even though he makes more in a single working day than the average defense employee makes in a year.
On Wednesday, President Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive expanding whistleblower protections to national security and intelligence community whistleblowers.
POGO's Ben Freeman had a new piece in Politico yesterday arguing that the need to have a real debate about the future of the U.S. military has been supplanted by hyperbole from the defense industry giants over potential job losses.
Major defense contractors have been going around saying the sequestration cuts to Pentagon spending will cause widespread job losses, but history tells a different story.
As the price for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter continues to rise while questions mount on the effectiveness of the plane, some Canadians are questioning the process and decision to buy the F-35.
Records for $475 million in fuel purchases for the Afghan National Army have been shredded, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Infographic on Defense CEOs vs. Workers